CCAD MDes candidates help Furniture Bank build the future

mdes work

For their fall semester project, candidates in CCAD’s Master of Design program worked with the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio to develop creative new concepts to increase donations and establish community connections.

For the first semester project each year, Master of Design program chair Mercè Graell seeks out projects involving an innovation component.

“The Furniture Bank is in a period of transformation,” Graell explains. “They’re moving from a traditional charitable organization to more of a social enterprise.”

Students were divided into three teams to address the concerns of the Furniture Bank, an organization that provides furniture to individuals and families building their way out of poverty.  

One group looked at the Furniture Bank’s internal operations to maximize existing assets, the second looked for ways to increase donations and donor engagement, and the third looked at how to strengthen connections with the families served.

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Each team was tasked with developing an implementable strategic plan using a creative problem solving process. The first step, Graell says, is for students to challenge their own assumptions. Students learn to reframe the way they see the problem, a crucial step for innovation. Students ultimately used three-minute video presentations to deliver three different concepts.

“The Furniture Bank loved everyone’s ideas because they weren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams, they were real-world solutions,” says Master of Design candidate Alex Stulock.

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Plans are under way to implement at least one of the students’ concepts: Desks for Success, an idea that leverages the Bank’s overflow supply of university dorm desks by distributing them to families in the community.

“We were put face to face with the people who are impacted by the issue of having furniture,” Stulock says. “It was definitely a shake-up in terms of perception. We can sometimes live in this idea design world bubble, which creates a disconnect between the people who have a solution and the people who need a solution.”

Learn more about CCAD's Corporate and Community Projects